Uh oh… is it starting again? Neymar’s recent comments hailing Philippe Coutinho as a player he would love to be playing alongside at Barcelona have prompted some worried expressions among Kopites.
Like it or loathe it, Liverpool have become a selling club nowadays. The financial aspects of the game and a lack of Champions League action have forced the Reds into offloading key men, with players’ ambitions and the need to bring in revenue having led to the likes of Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling all moving clear of Anfield in recent memory.
Coutinho would, surely, find resisting the La Liga champions and the chance to link up with his friend, and Brazilian compatriot, Neymar at the Nou Camp tough. So next summer could be an anxious one for the Merseyside club, albeit there should be some cause for optimism as they have, on the whole, been fairly successful in terms of drafting in decent players to replace sold stars (Suarez came in when Torres left and Coutinho has really stepped up his game without the Uruguayan at Anfield)
With that in mind, here are FIVE potential solutions…
A name that Liverpool fans will be familiar with. Back in the summer of 2013 the Armenia international was being linked with an Anfield move on an almost daily basis, yet he eventually opted for Dortmund, with the lure of Champions League action strong.
A lot has since changed at the Wesfalenstadion, and next year could prompt the former Shakhtar Donetsk star to move on, which may tempt Brendan Rodgers. With three goals and three assists in just 425 minutes of Bundesliga action this term, Mkhitaryan looks to have the final third capabilities to stand in for Coutinho.
Not as such a ‘transfer solution’, Firmino could be a good like-for-like replacement. The similarities between the Brazilian and his fellow Selecao man, Coutinho, are obvious, with their desire to play between the lines, break into the box and lay on chances for others shared. However, unlike Coutinho, Firmino is a real goalscorer. Through the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons in the Bundesliga he notched in excess of 20 goals for a midtable Hoffenheim side, while in the same time Coutinho found the net in 10 occasions.
Liverpool are yet to see the real Firmino with his start to life at Anfield having been a stuttering one thanks, in part, to a late return from international duty, but with a full campaign under his belt he could be ready to step up come next summer.
Payet will be 29 come next summer, which may make this one a little far-fetched, but the Frenchman could be a good short-term option. As Ligue 1’s most creative player last term there should have been little doubt surrounding his abilities upon his Premier League arrival, yet as West Ham won the race there was some scepticism.
However, Payet has been the driving force behind the Hammers’ wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, with his energy, ability on the ball and eye for a pass all outstanding. Surely he will have a clause in place with West Ham to force a move next summer should the right side come in for him…
Liverpool may have had their hands burnt with Ukrainian players in the past (Andriy Voronin was useless ad a long-awaited move for Yevhen Konoplyanka collapsed in January 2014), but Yarmolenko could be an ideal addition. The 25-year-old is widely hailed as the best player his nation have at their disposal right now, with his eye for goal from attacking midfield impressive to say the least (he’s scored over 70 for Dynamo Kiev and has 20 goals to his name at international level).
The versatile star has a winning mentality, too, with his influence key as Dynamo overhauled Shakhtar to clinch the Ukrainian title last term.
Another name to have been aligned with Liverpool on a consistent basis over the course of the past few years, Pastore could be an option to replace Coutinho. The Argentine was the poster boy signing of Paris Saint-Germain’s Middle Eastern revolution back in 2011, yet he has struggled to make a genuine impact at the Parc des Princes.
At 26 he needs game time, and with only 167 minutes of Ligue 1 action to his name so far in 2015/16, it looks as if Paris may not be the place for him to progress.